St. Mark’s Adult Education Meeting Summary
A General Overview of the Old Testament
A Discussion led by The Rev. Mike Kreutzer
Sunday, November 1, 2009
The Old Testament
Middle Eastern hospitality has always included the taking in of weary travelers and providing them with food and comfort (ref. second half of the 23rd Psalm). Where is Sarah? Who knows?! She is eavesdropping behind the flap of the tent entrance. She shall have a son was the message carried by the three visiting strangers who somehow seem to merge into a single being. Sarah is still in disbelief as she has now accepted being barren.
Next, the Lord tells Abraham that he is going to destroy Sodom. Abraham pleads with the Lord to save the city if he can find “ten innocent people there.” As the story continues, Lot is still the born loser and a group of angels have to drag him and his two daughters out of the city. This is also the story where his wife looks back and is turned into a pillar of salt. Then Lot’s daughters are worried that they will not find husbands since there would be no one left on earth, so they get their father drunk and conceive children with him, Moab and Ben-Ammi. Each of them became fathers of great nations.
Going back to Abraham, there was still no son conceived by this time. Finally, when he turns one hundred years old and Sarah is ninety, they have a son, Isaac, which means “laughter.” Per the Lord’s instructions, Isaac is circumcised when he turned eight days old. Finally, the promise was fulfilled! Everyone should be happy and joyous, but that was not the case! Sarah was jealous that Ishmael should inherit half of Abraham’s fortunes, so she commands him to send Hagar and her son away. The Lord tells Abraham to follow Sarah’s orders and that he will provide for the two of them. Ishmael grew into a man and took an Egyptian wife and also became the head of a great nation. He was also the son of the promised for Muslims.
The story of the Lord asking Abraham to kill his son Isaac follows. This is one that is somewhat difficult to understand as to why the Lord would ask anyone to do this. Perhaps it was to convey that Israel did not endorse human sacrifice. In the end, a ram is sacrificed instead.
Next, Sarah dies at age one hundred twenty-seven. He must also find a wife for Isaac. He also needs to find a burial site for Sarah so he bargains with Ephraim to pay him for the site and the surrounding field even though it was offered to him for nothing. This is the only land that Abraham will have at his death. It has become a shrine since Abraham, Sarah, Isaac, Rebecca, Jacob, and Leah are all buried there. Abraham sends his servant out to get a wife for Isaac. She must come from their own people. Whichever young girl will offer the servant water and also offer to water and take care of his camels will be the chosen one. This turns out to be Rebecca as her marriage to Isaac is negotiated by her Uncle Leben. Finally, the two of them wed to fulfill the promise of the Lord.